So A Muki: Receiving Prophecy
by S.L. Bergen
Westwood Books Publishing LLC

"'Our creation, too, is universal. There is a place for Earth in the Kingdom of God. We only have yet to find it.'"

Tara is a 13-year-old girl living in western Canada whose life is not ordinary to the outside observer. A perpetual risk-taker, Tara nearly lost her life at a young age and has been able to converse with God ever since. Though she frequently rebels against God’s guidance, she is never fully able to ignore his words. One night, she receives instructions that God is sending her a friend, an older man named David. Tara is mostly a loner, never comfortable enough around other people and preferring to go on adventures on her own. The next day while walking home, Tara spots the same man from her dream. Both seem startled by each other’s presence, but Tara has the confidence of her directive from God to insist that they become friends.

For his part, David has much reason to be concerned. Secretly an alien, albeit a human one from the Land of the Butterflies, David is a Cultural Judge on an expedition to Earth to determine if it is fit to be a part of God’s Kingdom or meant to be destroyed. David finds himself immediately smitten with young Tara but knows that a relationship is taboo for a list of reasons in both of their cultures. Still, he is unable to stop thinking about her, and Tara for her part insists that if God put them together, it must be for a reason. She is determined to remain the right kind of friend that will keep them both out of trouble. Together, their bond deepens as David teaches Tara the ways of the Muki—his people. They must work hard not to be split apart by their vastly different backgrounds and eventually prove to the rest of the Muki that the Earth deserves to be spared an apocalyptic fate.

In much the way that young love manifests, most of this story centers only around the people who are central to it: Tara and David. Chapters often take turns expressing one character’s point of view—either the isolationist and growing Tara learning more about the nature of God and how to open up to someone else, or the alien David, shaken by thoughts that seem to go against his entire upbringing while surrounded by friends and family. While the other members of David’s expedition take a considerable supporting role, the next most prominent characters in the story are probably those of God and the whole of nature. Both Tara and David have a love and respect for the wilderness, as they teach each other about how the rich Canadian landscape inspires them and calls them to inspiration, reflection, and worship.

The story itself sits at the intersection of science fiction and an almost theological, philosophical narrative. Though there are elements of space travel and alien races, the fact that they are also humans allows the only differences that manifest to be largely cultural. For all their differences, Tara and David are eager to learn from each other and grow closer, despite all those around them who would think it to be dangerous or sinful. The nature of Tara and David’s friendship can be uncomfortable for the outside reader as it is for the characters because we are privy to not only actions and intentions but stray thoughts that fail to resonate with accepted culture. Ultimately, however, this is a story about a blending of beliefs and the necessity to operate beyond taboo to accomplish a greater good, and so readers must be able to place the same trust in the author as the characters do in God. Compelling as fiction but potentially eye-opening in a spiritual sense, the peculiarities of this story fascinate the reader through every chapter and set up a profound conclusion to come in the ensuing books.

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